If you run a machine shop, you might think that the risk of being hacked is minimal compared with organizations in other industries.
However, the interconnected world of modern machinery, as well as the myriad digital resources that are needed in every sector, means that cyber security is not something you can take for granted.
With that in mind, here are some top tips that will let you shield your machine shop from outside incursions and reduce the risks of a successful attack in the future.
Recognizing the points of vulnerability
The first step in any cyber security overhaul is to look at the aspects of your current setup which are potentially vulnerable to subversion by malicious outsiders.
Computer workstations, terminals, and laptops all fall into this category, since if they have access to the internet then they could be compromised through a variety of means and methods, which in turn will result in disruption to your operations.
The main way to shore up the mission-critical, connected devices in your shop is to make sure that any security updates and software patches are installed as soon as they are made available.
The same applies if you are looking for used and reliable Haas machines for sale; ensure that the previous owner has applied whatever updates are available, or make sure that you install them yourself after you take delivery.
Defending network assets
Your machine shop’s network is another liability from a cyber security perspective, especially if wireless connectivity is in use.
Anyone who comes within range of your on-site Wi-Fi will have a backdoor to the rest of the devices that are using it, so you need to password protect this network so that only yourself and your employees are able to leverage it.
Following good password guidelines
Speaking of passwords, it pays to be aware of the best practices that you need to follow so that your chosen logins are secure and not easily guessable or crackable by attackers.
Enforcing a business-wide policy for creating passwords on any connected devices, as well as the network that hosts them, is essential.
There are various strategies recommended by experts in this regard, but in general if your passwords are required to be a minimum of 16 characters, and contain a mixture of upper and lowercase letters as well as special symbols, this will be sufficient.
Password choice is not the only thing to standardize, as you should also insist on different passwords being used for different devices, and to implement regular changes to new passwords so that even if old ones are compromised, this does not matter.
Training team members
You cannot expect your machine shop employees to automatically follow any cyber security procedures or use any protective tools you make available to them. As such, it is wise to provide appropriate training, as well as thorough documentation to ensure there’s no confusion around what’s expected of them.
This applies for current team members, and should also be integrated with the onboarding process that new hires undergo.
Considering site security
Data theft isn’t always carried out by some hacker in a basement thousands of miles away. In fact a lot of breaches come down to a lack of on-site security, which leaves IT assets exposed to straightforward theft.
You probably already have physical security measures in place to ensure that your valuable CNC equipment and tooling are not purloined when the site is unoccupied. You should also think about how your IT assets are stored, and make sure that there is not a lapse in security here.
Site access should also be managed, to prevent unwanted interlopers from wandering in and out as they please. Again, for smaller shops this might not seem like much of an issue, but it is this kind of attitude that breeds complacency and leaves you more vulnerable.
Reviewing and revising security policies
As mentioned, the cyber security landscape never stands still, and so over time you will need to track how your policies are performing, assess the extent to which they are protecting your machine shop from threats, look for any imperfections and make positive improvements where necessary.
Then if you do suffer a breach, or find that team members are not sticking to the best practices you put in place, you have a base level to measure against, and will see a path forward rather than being unsure of how to proceed.
As you can see, machine shops need to get serious about cyber attacks, and if you are starting from scratch with your IT security, it will need an investment of time and money.Just remember that the alternative, which is becoming the victim of a successful attack, will be more costly and disruptive.